Saturday, October 29, 2011

Little things

Big MacIn the short story "Strange Creatures" Kristine Kathryn Rusch writes:
Retsler reached inside, and pulled out a Big Mac and fries...He pulled the wrapper back and took a bite, tasting mustard, catsup, pickles and mayonnaise long before he got to the meat.
I'm guessing it's been a long time since she had a Big Mac. If she ever has. Remember the jingle?

Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame-seed bun.

No mustard. No catsup. And especially no mayonnaise, which doesn't come on any McDonald's burger. Jolted me right out of the story for a moment...

Yes, I know the special sauce may well have catsup and mayo in it, but I really doubt anybody, especially a dog-tired cop who thinks Big Macs and fries smell like "sugar and grease", has a refined-enough to palate to actually taste them. And there's still no mustard. (And the onions! What about the onions? not to mention the cheese...) In other words, a Big Mac is not just a regular hamburger. Would it have killed her to taste one before writing about it in such detail?

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At 2:43 PM, October 29, 2011 Anonymous Picky had this to say...

I have eaten once at McDonald's. I do not intend to repeat the experience.

At 3:43 PM, October 29, 2011 Blogger The Ridger, FCD had this to say...

Certainly your option and your right. De gustibus etc.

At 6:29 PM, October 29, 2011 Anonymous Kathie had this to say...

There are plenty of things that even good authors (let alone translators!) have written about despite having never experienced -- in many cases, fortunately!

Being vegetarian, other than an emergency orange juice I haven't eaten at McD's since, while on a day-trip with my (now-late) dad in winter '93, I had a large salad with diet dressing in Ukiah -- it was that or starve :-(

At 7:08 PM, October 30, 2011 Blogger The Ridger, FCD had this to say...

Of course I don't say people can only write about what they know, but there is such a thing as research. And when you get a detail like this wrong - lots of people do eat Big Macs, after all - it jumps out at a reader.

At 6:33 PM, October 31, 2011 Anonymous Mark had this to say...

I'm a little late on this, but I agree. Details gotten wrong like this jerk you out of the story. It's no longer a world, it's words written by a person who got something wrong. This happens occasionally and argues strongly to write what you know, because otherwise, as sure as the world, if you don't know, someone else will.


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